You are Enough

You are enough. Three simple, yet powerful words. Three words that need to be used more than they are. By me. And by YOU.

You will always be too much of something for someone: too big, too loud, too soft, too edgy. If you round out your edges, you lose your edge. Apologize for mistakes. Apologize for unintentionally hurting someone – profusely. But don’t apologize for being who you are. ~ Danielle LaPorte

Be unapologetically YOU.

My first name, Amanda, means “lovable; worthy of love,” yet I’ve struggled hard with feeling worthy and there have been so many days where I think I’m difficult to love. I’m not sharing any of this to fish for compliments or to be pitied, but rather to paint a picture of how society sets us up to dislike ourselves. That we need to fit within a certain box, otherwise we’re not worthy. This past year has been a game changer for me – tested me, pushed me, and opened my eyes to the heart of the matter. I want to share all of this with you because while I have felt a shift in my thinking, I know many still struggle.
I’m here to tell you that what you really need is to find peace within. To recognize that you are worthy at this very moment. You are ENOUGH. If you follow me on Instagram, you most likely saw the post I shared on my birthday along with this amazing poem:

“Never trust a mirror,

For a mirror always lies,

It makes you think that all your worth,

Can be seen on the outside,

Never trust a mirror.

It only shows you what’s skin deep,

You can’t see how your eyelids flutter,

When you’re drifting off to sleep,

It doesn’t show you what the world sees,

When you’re only being you,

Or how your eyes light up,

When you’re loving what you do,

It doesn’t capture when you’re smiling,

When no one else can see,

And your reflection cannot tell you,

Everything you mean to me,

Never trust a mirror,

For it only shows your skin,

And if you think that dictates your worth,

It’s time you looked within.”

~ Erin Hanson

Social media is a blessing and a curse. I have a love-hate relationship with it but lately it’s been getting better with adjusting my mindset. I have to frequently check myself and step away for my personal sanity, but I have watched it destroy others – to the point where they completely lost themselves or their self-worth hit an all-time low. 

My battle with self-love dates back to high school and got harder along the way with toxic relationships. I heard it all (from men and women):

“not skinny enough”

“fat face”

“big-boned”

“breast implants could help”

“not pretty enough”

“eyes are too big”

“too sensitive”

“needs a backbone”

I could go on, but it’s kind of depressing…and in the past. Disordered eating and body dysmorphia became a part of my life. Rather than looking within, I became obsessed with the reflection in the mirror and food…and not in a healthy way. It took a lot of hard work, time, and weeding out who I allowed in my life to get where I am today. Perfectly imperfect.


Going back to when I said social media is a blessing and a curse. When I talk about social media, I’m referring to Instagram (IG) because I left Facebook a few years ago as it wasn’t healthy for me. Instagram has connected me with so many amazing, inspiring, empowering people – some of them I consider my dearest friends, most of them I haven’t even met in person. And some of them are people I’ve known personally for years (former co-workers, school friends, family) – it’s a blessing to have an app to keep us in the loop of one another’s lives. To connect us. It feels good to be supported – to get a virtual hug, high-five, and the occasional “I’ve been there, mama” or “me too!”

Now the curse. The overly filtered, heavily edited, perfectly staged, selectively chosen pictures that are posted. Combined with the competitiveness and elitist attitude from some of the people…it can be a pretty toxic space…if you’re not careful. Did you know that I have received a quite few messages about how my photos could use some work or how to improve my blog or how to gain more followers? You probably didn’t. And while I try not to let that sort of stuff get to me, catch me on a bad day and I will over analyze everything and shut down. I’m not looking to grow my page or blog. To me, Instagram is my life in photos. Family, nature, food, and anything in between…I guess I consider myself a lifestyle page and to me, it’s kind of like a digital diary, an account of the delicious recipes I’ve tried, beautiful hiking spots, and my world…Willow. I post things that genuinely excite me or make me happy – I never post something as a way to impress someone or gain anything. Same goes for my blog – it’s more of a hobby for me. Something I genuinely enjoy because I write for me and if anyone happens to read my rambles, it’s just an added bonus. I don’t take the time to use a photo editor app or perfectly stage my food…nothing against those who do, for me, I just want to eat my food and I’ll occasionally snap a quick, in-the-moment pic, but that’s because I want to enjoy my food while it’s still hot or devour it before it melts. I can absolutely appreciate those gorgeous photos and even if I don’t photograph my food, I still make it pretty…does that make sense? But I need to digress because this rant is not where I intended this to go!

Back to curse. Not everyone on social media is genuine or compassionate. Just like in real life. It can be a selfish world and by that I mean, there are people who are only on there to benefit themselves, even if it means hurting others along the way. For example, there are accounts on IG who spend time commenting on random posts using fake compliments. Sometimes they’ll even go so far as to “follow” you and say, “I love your page” or “I love what you’re doing here.” All of this just to get your attention so that you’ll check out their page or follow them back. Ninety-nine percent of the time they’ll unfollow you once you’re following them. All they care about is growing their numbers. What’s sad is that I know a few people whom this has happened to and due to already low self-worth, it set them over the edge. They took it so personal, as an insult, that they became so depressed. If only people took others feelings into consideration before acting.


It is SO easy to get caught up in the comparison trap – those “perfect” photos can be intimidating and for some, they can be toxic. Here’s my message to you (and a reminder to myself):

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

You can’t compare a 38-year-old stay-at-home mother to a twenty something college student. While age doesn’t matter, getting older changes things. Bodies are different, lifestyles alter, priorities shift. I remember being in college. I remember working two jobs while taking a full course load. I remember my body being totally different. I remember having more time to myself. BUT, remember, pregnancy and birthing a child is no joke. I look at my cesarean scar and stretch marks as gifts and while I may never have a toned, flat stomach again, I am damn proud of my body. I am enough.

I’ve even been bad about comparing myself to other moms – I’d see “perfect” posts and think, ‘I need to workout more,’ or ‘I don’t do enough when it comes to homeschooling,’ or a general blanket statement…’I need to do more.’ Heck, there are some days when getting dressed is about all we do and guess what? That’s enough. When I take a step back and look at my life, what I’ve accomplished, my goals – I’m proud and I think I am enough. 

Don’t let those perfectly clean, organized house photos fool you. I have to laugh because I’ll joke and say that I need to snap a photo as evidence that it’s possible to have a clean house. Truth is, our house looks like a tornado ripped through it…95% of the time. Dishes piled HIGH, mail strewn about all over the counter, Willow drawings scattered on the floor, markers missing caps, crumbs EVERYWHERE, and blankets + couch cushions thrown about. We have an almost five-year old child and three fur babies. Our home is cozy, lived in, and messy. When Josh comes home from work, he’s able to follow the trail of the events by looking at the house. So, mamas, look at it this way. A messy house is a sign of having fun. A sign of living. It’s a sign that you’re feeding your family well. It’s a sign that you’ve found more important things to do than scrub the floors or dust the shelves…you’re being a present parent! Just because your house isn’t clean and organized like those posts on IG, doesn’t make you any less of a human being. Remember…YOU ARE ENOUGH. I am enough. (P.S. – also consider the fact that those so-called perfectly clean, organized homes were probably in disarray moments before or after they shared a pic).

What you can’t see in the photo below is our kitchen! Ha!! And to be honest, this is considered pretty clean…


Do not compare a blogger’s food photos to your own. Most bloggers have really nice cameras and props. Some have special lighting equipment. Most make a living off of creating recipes and taking stunningly beautiful photos. It’s their “job” and passion. More than anything, those bloggers put in hard work and effort to create a beautiful shot. It’s really easy for me to get caught up in this specific comparison trap. Being a SAHM I’m forever multi-tasking. Trying to snap a “perfect” photo is next to impossible because either (A) Willow is pulling on my legs or arms asking me to come look at something , (B) Willow is begging to eat what I’m photographing, or (C) I don’t have a really nice camera (just an inexpensive point-and-shoot Nikon or my iPhone), nor do I have any props. Once again, NOTHING against those who have all of this. I am simply stating why my photos aren’t much to look at. I AM a foodie though. I love the kitchen, I love creating, and I love trying new recipes created by others. Will my photos do them justice? Maybe not. But like I said, my posts are like an account of what I’ve made and enjoyed. I personally struggle sometimes to even post food pics because I think to myself, “these aren’t good enough” or “this looks nothing like so-and-so’s photos.” Stop that. Stop that right now. I’m talking to myself and YOU. Because remember…YOU ARE ENOUGH! So post those photos if they make you happy!

I intended on snapping a before photo, but she couldn’t wait to dive in and honestly, this photo makes me waaaaaay happier than a bowl of banana ice cream…


Do not compare someone else’s journey with your own. – Whether its spiritual, health, healing, diet, lifestyle, etc…DO NOT compare the path you are on to another person’s. Do not minimize your progress or success to someone else’s. Keep the focus within. What we all need to remember is that each one of us is different. Bodies. Mindsets. Priorities. Resources. Finances. All of it differs from person to person. Family to family. I do feel that it’s nice to have something to aspire to and occasionally it’s healthy to use someone else’s story for inspiration BUT not as an end all. Not as an “I need this in order to be happy, healthy, or beautiful.” Keep checking in with yourself. Are you happy? If so, you’re on the right path. And remember, no matter the case, YOU ARE ENOUGH.

– I struggled for a while with my own spiritual journey. I’d be bombarded by posts from others sharing what I needed in order to be truly spiritual. I began to feel that I wasn’t meditating enough, praying enough, unplugging enough, reading enough, minimalist enough. In a nutshell, I didn’t feel like I was enough, that while I thought of myself as spiritual, I began doubting that I actually was. That I constantly needed more. Truth is, after taking a deeper look within, I began to see that I was enough and that what I held dear to my journey – to my spiritual practice – worked for me. I began to phase out what others were throwing at me and focused more on what worked for me. Once I stopped comparing my journey with others, I was more at peace. I am a constant work in progress; forever learning how to be the best version of myself without the influence of others.

– In line with this thought, everyone’s idea of veganism (or diet in general) is different and for us to belittle one another over minor details is silly. What I consider healthy for me, won’t line up with the next person. What’s important is that we do what’s right for our own body and mind. Realizing that it’s enough – you’re not less healthy or less of a person because you consume more fat or carbs than someone else. 

Holy bright!!!! I swear this photo is unedited! I attempted to capture Willow being super silly,  but just as I snapped the pic, she ducked down in her car seat…but I managed to capture how truly happy I was…


I have to share an excerpt from Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (seriously read her books, I’ve loved them all). The last paragraph on the page below is so perfect…


Do it for YOU. The second you start posting for someone else’s attention or approval or writing what you think people want to hear, you’ve lost yourself. You’ve forgotten what it’s all about. YOU are important and what you have to share IS important. So don’t post something because you think it will get a lot of “likes” or “followers” – post from the heart. Post what makes YOU happy. Post what sings to your soul. When you do that, the right people will be aligned with your path.When you get caught up in what others like or what the “trend” is, you stop being yourself. What YOU have to offer is ENOUGH. For me this also means taking frequent breaks or unplugging for a few days – I’ve learned to be OK with not replying to comments the day they’re left or catching up on everyone’s page. Those who matter will still be there when I return. I choose to take care of myself (and family) before anything else.

If you find yourself constantly trying to prove your worth to someone, you have already forgotten your value. ~ Unknown


Do not compare numbers; in fact, ignore them. Just because you have less followers than someone else, does not make you any less important or valuable. Just because you only got 30 likes on a post doesn’t mean your photo wasn’t beautiful or meaningful. Know deep down that numbers mean nothing. Some of my absolute favorite pages/people have small followings and I adore them because their captions speak to me and their photos are  real, in-the-moment accounts of life. I enjoy interacting, engaging with other people and often times, the bigger pages just can’t keep up with comments or questions, which sadly, makes me less inclined to reach out to them. I love the pages that share unapologetically and a little bit of everything: food, personal, nature, quotes, motherhood…you name it. As long as they’re posting from the heart, that’s all that matters. So whether you have 20 followers or 100k followers, you need to remember that YOU ARE ENOUGH. Your worth is not determined by numbers. As long as you’re doing what YOU love, it is enough.


If you’re unhappy with who you are, what you look like, or where you are, I highly recommend digging down deep within and figuring out why. I say this because trying to change who you are or what you look like doesn’t always bring happiness, in fact, chances are, your feelings will remain the same. So choose to be happy now, not “when I lose 10 pounds,” or “when I get that promotion.” Embrace who YOU are and recognize your unique self and remember…

You are not your wrinkles, age spots, acne scars.

You are not the number on a scale.

You are not your pant size.

You are not your grades in school or your degree.

You are not your job title.

You are not your mistakes or shortcomings.

Your worth is NOT determined by the amount of followers you have or the number of likes you get on a post.

You aren’t less worthy if you “fail.” Choosing to put yourself out there and be who you are is a brave action. Vulnerability is not weakness.

The most delightful surprise in life is to suddenly recognise your own worth. ~ Maxwell Maltz

I had an epiphany a couple of days before my birthday (which is what sparked this blog post) and it was literally as if someone finally turned a bright light on after being in the dark for years. I felt a sense of freedom that was indescribable. Rather than living in a state of fear or walking on eggshells, I am now able to approach social media with a new mindset. New eyes. New confidence. I used to fear what others would think so I would hold back (filter) what I share. This last year was a whirlwind of emotions and struggles with health, creativity, relationships, love, loss, and change. I learned to follow my heart, my gut, and listen to my body…and ignored what others said was the “right” way. Through this journey, I have lost a few friends (real and online) because they didn’t agree with my path. And that’s OK. Hundreds unfollowed me on social media in a week’s span and while it stung at first, I count it as a blessing. I’m being aligned with those who truly matter; those who accept me for who I am…all of me. I learned the difference between true friends and those who only “liked” me when I was either making their recipes – only “supported” me when it was convenient or only talked with me when my life was positive (when I kept my struggles to myself)…a handful of those people unfollowed me on social media and while I’m grateful for what I learned from them while we were “friends” I am also grateful to not have artificial friendships in my life. I have grown because of them. I have learned that I AM ENOUGH no matter what. If I’m in a creativity slump…I AM STILL ENOUGH. I believe in supporting my friends wholeheartedly, even if their path doesn’t align with my own. Even if I am unable to make their recipes or buy their products, I support them with my words and energy. Realize that YOU ARE ENOUGH and if for any reason you doubt your stance with someone, it is time to let go and recognize that you should not have to fight to be heard by a “friend.”

I’ll share one last bit before I end this loooong ramble 😉

Becoming a mother opened my eyes in more ways than one. I’ve grown more than ever during these almost five years and have come to really recognize my strength. During these years, I have also been criticized more than ever – whether by random strangers on social media or family. Everything from diet, choice to not vaccinate, homeschooling, and me being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). I’ve been told that I need to do research, or I’m depriving my child, I need to listen to doctors, or get a part-time job. Yep. That last one really irks me. Get a job?? I may not punch in my hours on a time clock or receive a paycheck, but I hold many “job” titles and work 24/7. As with everything else, I’ve come to grow from the criticism or negativity. Why? Because I realize that my worth does not depend on what others think of me. And as far as being a mom, sure I have my bad days and moments of doubt, but I know deep down that I’m doing a pretty damn good job.


I think we all need to remember that we’re human. We might make mistakes, fall down, fail, do things we’re not proud of, but we are ALL WORTHY.

To anyone and everyone reading this, I’m sending you LOTS OF BIG hugs. Thank you for taking the time to read this to the end.

 

What I Eat in a Day {AIP}

Since starting the AIP diet, everyone keeps asking me, “what the heck do you actually eat???” I’ve had to eliminate SO many of my staples – everything from black pepper, baking powder, and curry to bell peppers and tomatoes…and the obvious nuts and grains. My diet over these last two weeks have consisted of A LOT of fresh fruits and veggies. It can definitely get repetitive and old, which forces you to buy produce you don’t always eat and to get creative with meals. It’s also hard because you get conflicting info on the Internet as to what foods you can and can’t eat.

Here’s what I ate in a day:

Breakfast:

Sautéed kale (oil-free) topped with half of an avocado, nutritional yeast, and a sprinkle of Himalayan salt.

What I Ate in a Day {AIP}
Snack:

12 oz smoothie >> 1.5 frozen bananas, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1 teaspoon maca, 1 teaspoon carob, 1 teaspoon mesquite powder, water and a splash of coconut milk to blend.

What I Ate in a Day {AIP}

Lunch:

1 Persian cucumber and half of an avocado topped with garlic, Himalayan salt, nutritional yeast, and fresh basil.

What I Ate in a Day {AIP}
Snack: 

Sliced apple, blueberries, and Ceylon cinnamon in a coconut paleo wrap. Also munched on a donut…working on trials for a grain-free recipe that’s also oil-free…holy tricky!! Haha! 

What I Ate in a Day {AIP}
What I Ate in a Day {AIP}
Dinner:

Sautéed kale + onions (oil-free; used mushroom broth), crispy sweet potato fries, and roasted brussels + broccoli with an AIP friendly cheese sauce…needs another trial, but I’ll share when I get it figured out!

What I Ate in a Day {AIP}

Before bed:

A cup of herbal tea.

*********************************

A couple of my other favorite meals from the week:

Banana-yam cakes with blueberries and pears (recipe courtesy of my cousin). Uses banana flour and a lot of cinnamon. You can either fry them in coconut oil for a yummy crispy exterior or bake them oil-free…both ways are delicious. 

What I Ate in a Day {AIP}
Butternut squash soup topped with steamed broccoli + fresh basil. Failed to write down how I made it, but that just means I’ll have to make it again 😉

What I Ate in a Day {AIP}

Hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!

Thanks for stopping by!

❤️


There’s More to Health than What You Eat…

I debated long and hard about writing this post, probably lots of overthinking, but when I realized that sharing my journey is not only what this blog is all about, there’s also a chance it could help someone else. I had a big wake-up call this summer and knowing that all of it could have been prevented is what pushed me to share this with all of you.

So grab a cup of tea, a snack, and get comfortable as I’m about to share a rather lengthy personal journey…


If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been absent almost all summer. I’ve been known to take a break here and there, but never for more than a few weeks. It all started when I met a friend for tea back in June and we got to talking about social media. She one day decided to completely delete her IG account to be more present in real life. We talked about our frustrations with the lack of authenticity, how everything appears to be perfectly staged, and how time consuming social media is. After we parted ways that day, I decided I really needed some time away from all of it. I noticed how I would get anxious about even opening the  app because that meant having to respond to all of the comments and catch up on everyone else’s pages. It felt overwhelming and I was struggling with balance. I also struggled with the behavior and energy received while on IG. The whole “follow for follow,” “like for like,” “comment for comment,” was unappealing, not to mention being a smaller page and blog, I allowed myself to feel unworthy. Unimportant.

But please know that IG was just a small portion of my stress.

In July, I started to notice that I wasn’t feeling or acting like my usual self. Everything felt off and I hated it, so rather than pushing down all of the feelings, I reached out to our naturopath. When I met with her the first time (mid-August), I rattled off my symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Poor digestion (bloating, pain, inflammation)
  • Irritability
  • High anxiety and stress
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in usual things

She took a small blood sample and we looked at it under the microscope together. It showed heart, adrenal, and colon stress. Wow. She had a pretty good idea as to what was going on, but ordered a full blood work up to get an accurate reading. What I found out shocked me and took several days to process it. Here’s what the results showed:

  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Chronic viral infection
  • Signs of hyperthyroid
  • Low stomach acid
  • Malabsorption of Vitamin D, zinc, and protein

What? How can that be?! I’ll tell you why….

STRESS.

All of the stress had caused adrenal fatigue and since my adrenals were so overworked, my thyroid stepped up in an attempt to balance everything. This just goes to show how amazing our bodies are – they work very hard to protect us. My gut also needs some serious love and with low stomach acid, it’s causing quite a bit of discomfort with a lot of foods.

I’m not going to go into detail about how I allowed the stress of several situations get the better of me and to be quite honest, after discussing all of it with my naturopath, this could go back years. Factor in the key element of me being an empath, I’ve endured many, many years of stress and being affected by others emotions and energies.

So what now? How do I heal?

My naturopath put me on a supplement schedule since my body isn’t absorbing it from whole foods and I have been going back to check in with her – we’ll do another blood work up in a couple of months. Along with supplements, I was told to take time for ME. That has meant asking for help – with Willow and things around the house. My Mom is helping out one day a week with watching Willow so that I can do something for me…and that does NOT mean running errands or cleaning. This means anything that will help my well-being: yoga without Willow climbing all over me or calling for me, writing, reading, or even taking a nap. I have learned that the healing process for adrenal fatigue could take up to a year (depending on the person and lifestyle changes made).

I struggled so much to share this with anyone because I thought I was healthy because I ate healthy. When I received the results, I instantly felt like I had failed, like I was a fraud. Here’s the thing, there is SO much more to health than what we eat. Outside factors can greatly impact our health – lack of sleep, pushing yourself too hard, working too much, lack of quiet/down time, toxic relationships, etc. Yes, diet plays a huge role in health, but if you are stressed, you run the risk of very serious issues.

Did you know that chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death (heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide)? And that 75-90 percent of doctor’s visits are stress related? That just goes to show not only how serious stress is, but also how prevalent it is. I feel incredibly grateful to be in tune with my body and recognize early signs, as opposed to running my body completely down and facing a far more serious diagnosis.

For me, my battle is feeling like I have to do it all. What I’m learning is that I can’t and that our bodies aren’t designed to undergo that kind of thinking. I kept getting myself in that trap by seeing posts on IG of other moms who appear to be doing it all (exercise, work, household chores, parenting, etc.) when in reality I need (and YOU) to remember that you only get a snapshot on social media…you don’t get the full picture and often times things are edited or just not shared. So we need to stop comparing what we think others are doing and just BE. Do what feels right to you and if that means moving at a slower pace, taking a break, or posting “imperfect” photos, do it.

 

Just like each individual is different,  each one of us will react and handle stress in different ways. One person’s method may not work for the next person. Life would be so much easier if there was a universal way, a way that fit everyone. The key is finding ways to help YOU. It may take some time, lots of patience, and testing out various methods to fine tune your personal way(s) of coping.

There's More to Health than What You EatThere's More to Health than What You Eat
Here are some tips & methods that have been working for me and also for those close to me…

TIPS TO REDUCE STRESS:

  • Quit the caffeine (coffee, soda, caffeinated tea). I loved drinking coffee, but cut it out of my diet back in March and never looked back. I drink a cup or two of herbal tea a day as it relaxes me and contains beneficial ingredients. Coffee actually promotes stress hormones – It may be difficult to let go of, but your body will thank you.
  • Meditate. I have gotten back into the habit of daily meditation and it has done wonders for my health and well-being. If you find you’re one to be easily distracted and can’t sit still, there are wonderful apps and podcasts that have guided meditations. I use Headspace and Calm – both are free to download via iTunes and offer sessions as short as 10 minutes!
  • Breathe. An obvious one, but sometimes when you’re in the midst of a stressful situation, you tense up and either hold your breath or breathing becomes erratic. Take a few really deep breaths and try to focus on just that. *PLEASE do not ever tell a stressed out person to just breathe or calm down…trust me, it makes matters worse.*
  • Get in the habit of journaling and doing free-writing. Take a moment out of your day to sit and write – don’t think about it too much and just let the pen take off. Write about whatever comes to mind. I like to do this just before bed (usually before meditating) so that I can go to bed with a clear head, I’ve emptied my thoughts and can hit the pillow completely relaxed.
  • Sleep. Sounds silly, but how many hours of sleep are you getting a night? If we’re being honest here, I was only getting 4-5 hours a night because I would be catching up on Instagram after Willow fell asleep and then try and read before finally going to bed around 1-2am. Now, most nights I’m not far behind Willow – I fall asleep between 9:30-10:30 and get a full nights sleep (unless Willow wakes up in the middle of the night). They actually recommend for anyone with adrenal fatigue to go to bed no later than 10:30pm.
  • Get outside! Go for a walk, a hike, a run, or meditate in the grass. The fresh air and sunshine will do wonders. Not to mention getting some vitamin D!
  • Yoga. There are several YouTube channels for yoga or head over to Amazon to purchase some DVDs.  Doing yoga and stretching helps to keep you in the present moment while releasing any tension in the body. Below are the videos I enjoy (I’ve been using the Kundalini yoga dvd for several years and love it)…Willow and I occasionally do yoga together and her DVDs are a huge stress reliever as they’re silly and fun!

There's More to Health than What You Eat

  • Exercise. If you have adrenal fatigue, ignore this tip. I was told to stick with yoga, but for the typical person, exercise (running, cardio, etc.) can be a wonderful way to release stress.
  • Limit your screen time (TV, computer) and gadget/technology time (phone, iPad, Kindle, etc.) – especially before bed. In her recent post, Heather of Yum Universe suggested charging your phone in the kitchen and leaving it there…don’t bring it upstairs with you when you go to bed. I have drastically reduced the time I spend on my phone and I stop using it at least an hour before going to bed. If this is a struggle for you, I recommend putting your phone on airplane mode or turning off notifications at night. This helps to resist the urge to check it.
  • Find activities that create a sense of peace and calming within. For me, that is coloring, doing zentangles, reading, and listening to music. When Willow wants to color, I grab my coloring books and join her – it’s actually become quite the family activity these days.

  • Clean house. Both literally and figuratively. Declutter your home and let go of anything that no longer serves a purpose in your life – let go of the things that no longer bring you joy. This is not easy to do and sometimes this could include toxic relationships – those who either don’t support you, criticize, or hold you back from being happy.
  • Ask for help. If you’re like me, this is easier said than done, BUT absolutely necessary. Recognize those who support you and do not hesitate to lean on them during times of imbalance.
  • Talk about it! Reach out to your good friends and family – be open about your struggles – more often than not, you’re going to find out that you are NOT alone. Everyone is struggling with something and talking about it is therapeutic. In talking about it with those close to me, I found out that two other people happen to be in very similar situations health wise…all due to stress as well.
  • Know your limits and learn how to say no. Remember that you are human, one human, and can’t do it all. Only take on as much as you feel comfortable with. I think it’s great to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself, but if you are susceptible to stress or anxiety, know your body’s capacity and DO NOT allow yourself to reach a breaking point.
  • Let go of the idea that everything needs to be checked off your to-do list before bed. Do you make to-do lists? Mentally or physically on paper? I do. I’m kind of obsessed with lists because it helps my mama brain keep track of things – even little things like sweeping the floor. I’ve learned that lists are great, but they don’t need to be done in a day. My house might be a bit messier, but my stress level is down…and I’m learning to be OK with that.
  • Let go of the past and don’t worry about the future…put your focus on being present. I know how difficult this can be and that is why meditation is key. Being mindful of the here and now is what truly matters.
  • Be kind to yourself. Be patient. Have faith.

I can already hear some of you saying, “I don’t have time to…” And here’s the reality: We ALL HAVE TIME. We just choose to spend it differently. You will have to make adjustments in your life or put other things on the back burner and that’s OK! Pick up the phone and actually talk with a friend – not a rushed text. If you haven’t read a book in forever, start reading a chapter or two of a book that’s been on your list – instead of spending time doing things you think need to be done. I think you get the idea 🙂

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So what does this mean for me? This blog? Social media?


I’m taking things day by day and putting sleep + rest as a priority. I’m making meditation a daily habit and surrounding myself with all the good energy I can. I’ve realized that with Josh’s work schedule, I absolutely NEED to ask my Mom for help more…being a full-time, stay-at-home mom can be challenging, especially since I’ve also taken on the role as homeschooler.

•••

As for the blog…I am very passionate about this blog and while I know it lacks good photography, it is my therapeutic outlet…even if only a handful of people read a post. I enjoy it and the people I connect with here. I am a casual “blogger” in that I get posts up when I feel like and it’s more of a hobby than a career – so I’ve also stopped comparing my little blog with others. I do what I can and I’m at peace with that.

Since I’m also playing around with my diet and making some adjustments, there might be either a lack of recipes here or recipes out of the norm…but always vegan! I will absolutely NOT stray away from being plant-based. I’ve been nut-free for a week now and feel better than I’ve felt in months – I’m also experimenting with AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) – which means no grains, nightshades, beans, nuts + seeds, and certain spices….which is super hard, but if it means healing, I’m all about it. Thank goodness for my cousin (she introduced me to AIP) and all of the crafty people out there creating recipes to fit that diet! My energy is at an all time high and my mood has drastically changed…not to mention my gut loves me!

A sneak peek of what’s coming to the blog soon…


•••

Hmmm. As for social media, I haven’t really decided. I deeply miss many of the people on Instagram, but I’m also enjoying being more present and building stronger connections with those close to me. During this absence, I’ve had several reach out to me via email and/or text with the very same complaints about social media – that it’s a comparison trap and feels like a competition. I truly LOVE the connections that I have made there and if I do return, I will be limiting my time on there during this healing process. To some of you all of this might sound over dramatic or way off base and that might be because you’ve got your stress under control or you stand confidently in your place – for that I genuinely applaud you.

I am a work in progress. I am forever learning and growing. I am healing.

To those reading this, if you’re struggling, please know that you are NOT alone. You are worthy of love and healing. We all are. Please reach out for help if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Do not put your health on the back burner like I did.

If you’re reading this and you know someone who is struggling, offer help or an ear. Never minimize their struggles or tell them that they’re overreacting because in their mind, it’s a huge deal. Be supportive and patient.
Thank you so much to all who took the time to read my rambles here.

Love and light.

❤️

My Fully Raw Week and What I Ate

In an effort to reset my system and heal my body of any damage from the emotional eating these last few months, I chose to do a week of fully raw. No cooked foods, no oil, only fruit-sweetened, and consumed as much fresh fruit and veggies as my body craved. Things have been stressful and overwhelming here at home and I found myself going back for a second helping of food or eating dessert when I was already feeling full. It was as if I was filling a void of some sort or maybe it was my body’s way of protecting myself from falling into my very old ways of starving myself. Whatever the reason, it needed to stop. My clothes weren’t fitting like they used to, I was sluggish, stressed, and not feeling like my usual self.

Before I got pregnant with Willow, I followed a mostly raw diet so this wasn’t a new transition for me. I go through phases with raw food…it’s definitely easier for me to eat that way in the warmer months, so with the temps feeling like summer, this week was really easy for me. My body literally craved lots of fruit, smoothies, salads and veggies. I also think that reading Medical Medium helped give me the push I needed to heal.

I didn’t plan out a specific meal plan, but when we did our grocery shopping for the week, I stuck to only fresh produce and a few raw snack items. I knew in my mind that I’d be doing a lot of salads, juices, and smoothies, so sticking to our weekly budget, I purchased accordingly. Since my week was successful on so many levels, I decided to share what I ate and include links and/or recipes that helped me. I also unintentionally planned this fully raw week during my cycle and what shocked me most was my energy level. Normally I’m really sluggish, uncomfortable and unmotivated to do much of anything, yet I managed to run, work out and keep up with my very active four-year-old. I had very minor cramps for a few hours on day one, but they went away pretty fast and I didn’t look or feel bloated. During my teens and twenties, I used to have debilitating cramps and fatigue, so this was a HUGE improvement!

You’ll notice in the “what I ate” portion of this post that there were quite a few repeat meals…I have Willow to thank for that! When it came to making smoothies/smoothie bowls, she made the same two requests! She did not eat a fully raw week with me, but came pretty close – she would see what I was eating or drinking and wanted whatever I had instead of the meal I prepared for her.

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TIPS & EQUIPMENT:

  • Know who/where offers the best prices for what you’re looking to buy. We buy the bulk of our organic produce (and frozen fruit) from Trader Joe’s since that’s where Josh works (so we get a discount and the prices are really reasonable). I supplemented with fresh produce from Natural Grocers + Whole Foods — All organic and most of it on sale. As for frozen fruit/veggies, we buy a 3-lb bag of organic antioxidant blend via Costco for under $10 and also a large bag of organic frozen broccoli for around $7…both last us about 1.5-2 weeks. And how can I forget the dates?! Costco is my go-to for dates as you can get a 2-lb container for under $9.
  • To go along with the first “tip” I highly recommend downloading the Whole Foods app to your phone! There’s lots of great coupons and a list of sale items. Most of the time we aren’t able to use the coupons because they’re usually for foods that we don’t eat, BUT there have been a few times where there’s a $5 off produce coupon when you spend $25…so easy to do.
  • Wash and chop fresh fruit/veggies when you get home from shopping, if able. For example, when Josh brought the bag of beets home, I scrubbed, peeled, and chopped them for the week, which made smoothie prep super easy! Also, having everything washed and ready to go made snack time a cinch and throwing a salad together happened really fast.
  • During this fully raw week, my Vita-Mix, spiralizer, and food processor were my best friends! Oh! And my nut milk bag!
  • Soak your nuts/seeds!

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WHAT I ATE:

When I wake up, before I consume anything, I do oil pulling for 15-20 minutes and then I always drink at least 32 ounces of water before eating. I stuck to that routine for this week. Throughout the day I drink at least another 30-40 ounces of water…so I won’t include that in my daily breakdown below.

I learned this really cool trick for oil-pulling a few months ago and it makes it super easy! Gently melt coconut oil (I usually do this by putting it in my dehydrator) and pour into candy molds. I store mine in the fridge and pop one in my mouth first thing in the morning.

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Anything marked with an asterisk (*) means I’ll share the recipe at the end or at least approximate measurements.

MAY 9 – MAY 15, 2016

Monday:

  • BREAKFAST: Sliced banana + apple topped with chopped dates and Ceylon cinnamon
  • SNACK: Gopal’s Nori Power Wrap (curry)
  • LUNCH: Big fruit salad and Humm Chai Kombucha
  • SNACK: Fresh coconut water
  • DINNER: Broccoli-berry smoothie bowl* topped w/ dried mulberries + shredded coconut

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

Tuesday:

  • BREAKFAST: Red Velvet Smoothie (minus vanilla extract)
  • SNACK: one banana and 2 Brazil nuts
  • LUNCH: 20 ounces of fresh Cucumber-Celery-Granny Smith Apple Juice and two Spriulina Bites
  • SNACK: Trader Joe’s Organic Dried (unsweetened) Mango Slices
  • DINNER: Zucchini noodles (zoodles) with raw cheeze sauce*

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

Wednesday:

  • UPON WAKEUP: 16oz fresh celery juice
  • BREAKFAST: Chia pudding* with sliced banana
  • SNACK: an apple
  • LUNCH: Berry smoothie bowl topped with a drizzle of tahini
  • SNACK: Two Spirulina Bites
  • DINNER: Big salad topped with fresh veggies, sunflower seeds and creamy ranch*

Thursday:

  • BREAKFAST: Red Velvet Smoothie (minus vanilla extract)
  • LUNCH: Cucumber noodles with creamy ranch and Trader Joe’s Micro Greens
  • SNACK: Fresh strawberries
  • DINNER: Broccoli-berry smoothie bowl topped w/ fresh strawberries, dried mulberries, and shredded coconut

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

Friday:

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

Saturday:

  • BREAKFAST: Red Velvet Smoothie (minus vanilla extract)
  • SNACK: Celery sticks and creamy ranch
  • LUNCH: One avocado + arugula topped w/ garlic, basil, & splash of coconut aminos
  • SNACK: One mini lemon cheesecake (recipe trial)
  • DINNER: Mango-banana-spirulina bowl topped with dried mulberries and shredded coconut

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

Sunday:

  • UPON WAKE UP: 16oz fresh celery juice
  • BREAKFAST: Sliced banana + apple topped with chopped dates and Ceylon cinnamon
  • SNACK: Wild Siberian Pine Nut Flakes + cinnamon w/ a splash of fresh almond milk
  • LUNCH: Broccoli-berry smoothie bowl topped with blueberries and coconut butter
  • SNACK: Gopal’s Nori Power Wrap (curry)
  • DINNER: Chia pudding layered with banana-berry sorbet

My Mom had purchased the Pine Nut Flakes a while back via Raw Food World on sale.

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

My Fully Raw Week & What I Ate

*RECIPES*

BROCCOLI-BERRY SMOOTHIE BOWL: Blend together —> 1.5-2 frozen bananas, 1 cup frozen broccoli, 1 cup frozen berries, 1-2 pitted Medjool dates and just enough coconut water or fresh nut milk to get the blender going. I changed it up throughout the week and would add one or two of the following: 1/2 tsp. spirulina, small scoop raw vanilla protein powder (unsweetened), 1 Tbsp raw tahini. IF you happen to have any leftover smoothie left, you can freeze it into ice cubes or pour into popsicle molds!

RAW CHEEZE SAUCE: Blend together one (small-med) peeled zucchini, small red bell pepper, 1/4-1/2 cup raw soaked cashews, 1 teaspoon chickpea miso, 1-2 small garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, coconut aminos or Himalayan salt to taste. You can add nutritional yeast if desired, although it’s not considered raw. If the sauce is too thick, you can add some filtered water…but between the soaked (wet) cashews, zucchini and bell pepper, I didn’t need to.

CHIA PUDDING: In a jar, mix together 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cup raw milk and 1/3 cup chia seeds. Allow it to sit for a few hours or overnight. Then I blended it together with 3-4 pitted Medjool dates.

CREAMY RANCH DRESSING: I highly recommend my friend, Anjali’s, recipe for Cucumber Ranch Dressing…it’s so good! During this week I used her recipe and then also my own, which you can find HERE – but I used coconut aminos in place of Himalayan salt, added some organic dried chives, and apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice.

BANANA-BERRY SORBET: I blended 2.5 frozen bananas with 1 cup frozen berries, 1 Tbsp raw vanilla protein powder and enough water to get it moving.

 

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RESULTS:

This week opened my eyes to what emotional eating had done to my system. I allowed myself to eat an abundance of fresh foods – didn’t limit myself, but rather just followed what my body was craving. I felt really satisfied, light, and energized! Since I did not do this for weight loss, I cannot speak to results in that way, but I will say that my clothes fit so much better and I’ve noticed a change in my overall appearance. My skin went through a brief/minor breakout, but by the end of the seven days, my skin had totally cleared. My body continues to crave fresh fruits and veggies so I’ve been pretty much following a raw-till-4 diet. I’m more mindful with eating and stay in tune with my body. This week absolutely helped me to get back on track and feel my best. This week not only reset my system, but also my mindset – I was reminded of just how healing food can be. By no means was I consuming unhealthy foods prior to this week, but I was overeating and eating too much of the “wrong” carbs, such as pasta and baked goods. I love pasta and won’t stop eating it, but as I’m working on handling stress better, I’ll be limiting my consumption.

Whew…this post was pretty wordy! I apologize for rambling!!!

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

REVIEW: April Favorites

Hello, sweet friends!!  Happy May! This might be my shortest ‘Favorites’ post yet as April was somewhat of an off month here. But I still have some good things to share with you!

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Before we dive into my favorite products, I have to share one of our favorite “news” stories. We don’t actually watch the news, since we don’t have cable television, but my Mom informed us of this pretty awesome story…I highly recommend listening to the clip:

Inky The Octopus’s Great Escape: NPR

 

Also, if you’re interested in reading an inspiring blog post, I found this while organizing & cleaning out some of my Pinterest pins (waaaaaay too many pins) and I can’t believe it took me this long to really read it at length. Really makes me think about not only who I am and aspire to be, but also who I surround myself with:

4 Signs of a Woman Worth Following

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A P R I L  F A V O R I T E S:

PRODUCTS WE TRIED & LOVED:

SOMA Evolutionary Refreshment >> Root Brew >> As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I can’t resist trying new kombucha options that pop up in our local natural food stores. Back in my sugary soda drinking days, root beer was my favorite! So you can see why I was drawn to this one. Definitely reminiscent of root beer, but better! SOMA is a company based out of Portland, OR and we LOVE what they’re all about…for example, here’s a bit from their website about “Zero Waste”

Basically, that everything we use in normal operations that can be re-used or re-purposed is, and the recycling bin is the absolute last resort. We know that you can’t throw anything away, because there is no “away”, so we choose products and vendors that come in reusable and less packaging, buy in bulk, get creative.  For example, the wax paper strips that labels come on aren’t recyclable so we donate them to a local funky arts supply store. But if you want some to bake a strip of cookies on, just ask!  And don’t be stingy with those cookies.
Our packaging will always be returnable or reusable, and we really appreciate everyone’s willingness with the bottle deposits.  So far, we’ve kept over 20,000 bottles out of the landfill (where many recycled bottles end up, as making new bottles is cheaper than recycling old ones).

REVIEW: April Favorites

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RECIPES WE TRIED & LOVED:

In April, we stuck with mostly basics and lots of recipes we’ve already tried, but here are two new ones that we fell in love with!

Smoky Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Dip >> Veggie Inspired >> I FINALLY tried one of Jenn’s recipes! After months of drooling over posts and compiling a loooooong list of recipes to try, I finally dove in…and also finally subscribed to her blog, which I highly recommend doing! This recipe was wonderful! Creamy, slightly smoky, tangy, and good enough to eat with a spoon. The only adjustment I made was that I left out the liquid smoke since Willow isn’t a huge smoky fan. We dipped oil-free potato wedges in it and also put a dollop on top of our homemade chili! I know I’ll be making plenty more of Jenn’s recipes because I’ve noticed that she uses tahini a good bit and you know how much I LOVE tahini!

REVIEW: April Favorites

Mint Chocolate Chunk Nicecream >> Feasting on Fruit >>  During my pre-vegan days, my all-time favorite ice cream was mint chocolate chip so when Natalie shared a much healthier version, I jumped right on it! Willow and I took some super soft dates and cut them into chunks to throw into our nicecream – I sprinkled a few raw cacao nibs on top of mine. We used spirulina for the green (she gives a few options) and while ours didn’t turn out quite as pretty as Natalie’s, it was incredibly delicious!! Super creamy with just the right amount of mint – a perfect treat for a warm day!

REVIEW: April Favorites

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BOOKS I READ & LOVED:

I read A LOT of new books with Willow last month, here are the ones we really loved:

The Snail and the Whale 

Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House #1)

Octopus Alone

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

The Story of Diva and Flea

And here are my favorite reads from the month:

Medical Medium by Anthony William >> If you follow me on Instagram, chances are you saw my post about this book. My best friend, Jen, recommended it to me and then I kept seeing people refer to it on IG, so I took it as a sign that I needed to buy it. When it finally arrived, I couldn’t put it down. I told myself that I was going to take my time with it and read a chapter here and there, but I finished it in three days. He sucks you in with his personal story and how this book came to be AND then he goes and continues to blow your mind with his insight. The book is broken down by various conditions: depression, migraines, PTSD, PMS + menopause, and much more. He points you in the direction to healing foods and foods to avoid, as well as supplements/herbs that can aid in healing. As someone who once battled depression, migraines & anxiety, I can look back and see where I could have done better. Ever since I was a teenager, I struggled hard with PMS and while over the years I have learned how to better cope, this book helped me to have a pain-free, symptom-free month! By implementing a few supplements/herbs and healing foods I noticed drastic changes. The thing about this book is that EVERYONE can benefit from reading it – it doesn’t matter if you’re currently sick, aren’t displaying any symptoms or have already healed…this book is filled with life-changing information. Information that could help future generations. I HIGHLY recommend ordering yourself a copy or downloading the Kindle version!

The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes >> I’ll tell you what, I’ve lucked out with the Kindle First choices I’ve made lately…and this was no exception. The Eagle Tree is a story told through the eyes of March Wong, a fourteen-year old autistic boy, who LOVES to climb trees. One day, while climbing, he discovers this Ponderosa Pine (the Eagle Tree) and learns of its fate. March takes things into his own hands and does what he can to save this tree. I loved how engaging the narration was and thought that the author did a beautiful job.

Take me with you by Catherine Ryan Hyde >> I was in between books and decided to browse the Kindle lending library – that’s when I found this book. It ended up being much better than I anticipated. I got so sucked into the story and characters that I couldn’t put it down. It was a feel-good story, heartwarming, and it made me want to hop in the car and take a road trip!

 

What were some of your favorites from April? Did you read any good books or try a new recipe/product? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for stopping by!

RECIPE: Raw Ranch Kale Chips

I’m not exaggerating when I say that we go through 5-6 bunches of organic kale a week. My body literally craves it! Our favorite ways to enjoy kale: lightly sauteed, thrown in a smoothie, salads and kale chips!

The possibilities are endless when it comes to chip flavors and since we’ve been on a big ranch dressing kick lately, we thought ranch kale chips would be perfect! These are so simple to throw together and you can use the leftover ranch dressing for salads, wraps or veggie burgers…or toss it with another bunch of kale!

RECIPE: Raw Ranch Kale Chips

My little assistant helped me tear the kale from the stems, make the dressing and happily licked the Vitamix clean…and quickly grabbed for some when the chips were finally ready! I love having these on hand for a healthy toddler snack.

RECIPE: Raw Ranch Kale Chips

RECIPE: Raw Ranch Kale Chips

RAW RANCH KALE CHIPS: {raw, gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, vegan}

What you need:

  • 1 bunch of organic kale
  • 3/4 cups raw cashews (soaked for at least 4 hours)
  • 2 Tablespoons raw hemp seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup + 3 Tablespoons filtered water*

*more or less depending on the consistency you prefer.

How to:

  1. Tear the kale away from the stem into desired size, wash, and dry thoroughly. If you have a salad spinner, I highly recommend throwing the kale in there to get the excess water off.
  2. Drain and rinse your cashews; add to high-speed blender.
  3. Add the remaining dry ingredients, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of water to start. Blend until smooth, adding more water if needed (or desired). I used an additional 3 Tablespoons of water to make it easy to pour, but not runny. Salt to taste.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, toss the kale with 1/4 cup of the ranch dressing – adding more, as needed, to evenly coat the kale. A thicker coating will will lead to longer dehydrating time. You can sprinkle extra salt, hemp seeds or dill at this time.
  5. Place the kale in a single layer on your dehydrator sheets. Mine filled two Excalibur sheets. Set the temp for 105-115° and allow to dry for 5-8 hours (depending on your dehydrator, temp, and thickness of coating).
  6. Store leftover ranch dressing in an airtight container (in the fridge) and kale chips are best stored in glass jars. ENJOY!

RECIPE: Raw Ranch Kale Chips

RECIPE: Raw Ranch Kale Chips

RECIPE: Raw Ranch Kale Chips

RECIPE: Raw Ranch Kale Chips

Thanks for stopping by!

Why I Broke up with “Gums”

If there’s one thing I pride myself in, it’s being in tune with my body. When something feels “off” I don’t look for a quick fix or band-aid to cover up the problem. I’ve learned to dig deep and look for the cause – the root of the problem. Over the last few months, I’ve struggled a bit with feeling bloated (sorry, for the overshare) and my initial thought was that it had to be oats. Back when I had to go gluten-free (nine years ago), I was unable to consume gluten-free oats – I’m talking lots of pain and I looked like I was pregnant. I later became OK with gf oats after doing a cleanse and removing soy from my diet, but back in October, I began to notice the bloating and minor pain returned. I immediately cut oats out of my diet and within a week or two, I started to notice a difference. Fast forward a couple of months….bloating returned, but I hadn’t consumed any oats. I was seriously stumped.

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When I was actually pregnant with Willow, but that’s how I felt when eating the wrong foods.

After a lot of research, looking through our pantry and fridge, and by elimination, I figured out the culprit. GUMS! And I’m not talking about chewing gum, I’m talking about the additives found in SO MANY foods, baked goods, flours, protein powders, beverages, etc. For those with sensitive digestive systems, those who have IBS or other gut issues (leaky gut, etc.), I would HIGHLY recommend doing a little research or some trial and error. The purpose of all of these gums is to act as a “glue” to hold baked goods together (especially gluten-free, vegan items), thicken products such as coconut milk, ice cream, yogurt, etc.

image from LoveToKnow

  • Xanthan Gum – a substance produced by bacterial fermentation (or synthetically) and used in foods as a gelling agent and thickener. It’s actually the same bacteria that causes black spots (“rot”) on broccoli and cauliflower. Since it’s derived mainly from corn or soy, if the products you’re buying aren’t organic and they contain xanthan gum, there’s a very high chance it’s genetically modified (GMO) unless it actually states “certified non GMO.”
  • Guar Gum – actually comes from food and used as a thickener…but can cause stomach upset in those with a sensitive digestive system. Click HERE for a great breakdown about this ingredient.
  • Gellan Gum – similar to xanthan gum in that it is produced by bacterial fermentation.

We had been making our own nut + seed milks for about six years, but would always supplement with a store bought one as well. Being mindful about the ingredient list and avoiding ones that contained carrageenan or sweeteners. Over the last couple of years we got a bit lazy and began to enjoy the convenience of store bought and made less homemade. THEN Kite Hill had to go ahead and create a dreamy soy-free yogurt that actually tasted amazing!! Have you tried it…we were hooked.

Well, it all caught up with me.

The day I dumped out my jar of xanthan gum and tried rinsing it out was the day I woke up. Holy crap. Have you ever tried cleaning that junk up? It was goop-y, slimy and gross…and thinking about that sitting in my system literally made me feel ill. You might be wondering, “why did you have a jar of actual xanthan gum sitting around?!” Answer: for the few times a gluten-free recipe called for it. I know better now.

I thought I was doing an awesome job over the years of watching my intake of xanthan gum (and any other gums), but then I took a closer look. It was in our unsweetened almond milk, yogurt, bread, flatbread pizza crust, crackers and SO much more. All the little things began to add up. I was horrified. Knowing the effect it was taking on me and my sensitive system, I immediately thought, “what is it doing to little Willow?!”

Some of my favorite products contain some type of gum:

  • Trader Joe’s Sriracha
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers Graham Crackers
  • OrganicVille’s Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Organic, soft, corn tortillas
  • Full fat coconut milk (canned)
  • Store bought vegan cheese
  • Kite Hill cream cheese
  • Coconut Bliss Ice Cream
  • Steve’s Ice Cream

None of the above items are things we would consume on a regular basis, but still…crazy to think just how many products contain some type of gum (xanthan, guar, gellan, etc).

Luckily, our favorite protein powders are xanthan gum-free! We LOVE Sunwarrior’s Warrior Blend Vanilla and Garden of Life’s Organic Plant Protein (Smooth Chocolate). Again, we don’t use them all the time, but it’s good to know these products don’t contain any sneaky gums.

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I am in NO way trying to scare anyone and don’t claim to be an expert about any of this, BUT I wanted to share my personal experience and how I’ve improved. I also do not want to come off as elitist nor do I judge anyone for consuming pre-packaged foods that contain gums.

Am I cutting gums out 100%? No.

Am I going to do my very best to do so? Yes.

Considering it’s in just about everything that’s store bought/pre-made, I will do what I can to stop purchasing products that contain it and if we happen to go out to eat, I’m not going to stress about it. We’ve always been good about limiting our processed food purchases, but I will be the first to admit that when you’ve had a rough day, week, month, sometimes foods of convenience become a go-to…but planning ahead and food prepping has been huge for us. For the last few weeks we’ve gone back to exclusively making ALL of our milks at home (almond, cashew, hazelnut, hemp) as well as making our own yogurt. Here’s my current go-to  yogurt recipe. We blend it up and let it set in our yogurt maker for 13-14 hours – literally the best texture I’ve had AND way less sweet.

We’ve had our T-Fal yogurt maker for a few years and I can’t seem to find it on Amazon anymore…HERE is one that is similar.

Why I Broke up with "Gums"

Why I Broke up with "Gums"

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I’ve shared in a few of my posts how we make our own milk, but here’s a quick recap:

1 cup of raw, organic nuts (soaked overnight, drain & rinse)

3.5-4 cups filtered water

Sweeten if desired with maple syrup, coconut sugar or dates

Blend until smooth, strain using a nutmilk bag and store in fridge. You can sweeten if desired, but we always leave it unsweetened since we use it for various savory dishes as well.

It tastes WAY better than any store-bought milk and it’s less expensive.

Why I Broke up with "Gums"

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What about recipes that call for xanthan gum? Pizza crust, breads, etc? You can actually substitute it with psyllium husks!

Now that I’ve rambled all over the place, let me swing it back to the beginning where I talked about oats. I did a test and made some oatmeal…no pains anymore! I’m still limiting my intake just in case and I don’t want to overdo it – even though I’m insanely anxious to make all the recipes I’ve missed out on for the last four months! I’ve been consuming almost no xanthan gum and I no longer look like a pregnant woman and my digestive system is back to normal.

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Since I get so many questions about our favorite breads and flours, here they are and they do not contain “gums”:

Silver Hills Gluten-Free Chia Chia Bread or Gluten-Free Omega Flax Bread (organic, non GMO, sprouted)

King Arthur Gluten-Free Mulit-Purpose Flour >> We don’t use it very often as it is pricey, but it’s the best gf flour you can buy. We find it at Natural Grocers, Whole Foods or order it online (depends on who has the best deal).

Another fantastic gluten-free flour blend is a homemade version found in Somer’s book The Abundance Diet.

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If you’re experiencing stomach cramps, inflammation, migraines/headaches, bloating or any other digestive discomfort, I would definitely take a closer look at your labels – you might be consuming more “gums” than you think…I know I was. And if your kiddo is on a gluten-free “diet” I would absolutely be more mindful of labels.

Here are some articles and/or blog posts that I found interesting and helpful during my quest to learn more about these sneaky ingredients:

And HERE is a book that’s on my to-read list.

Again, I am only sharing this because I found out what was causing trouble for me and maybe this information could help someone else. I’m not a health expert, but I know my body and what it can and cannot tolerate. I urge you to do your own research and make your own conclusions.

Thanks for stopping by!